The first meeting of the national consensus government, headed by Rami Hamdallah
Poster commemorating Alaa' Muhammad Awda, hung by Fatah during the funeral
Palestinian students from Bir Zeit University clash with Israeli security forces at the entrance to the Ofer jail
The national security forces train in the Gaza Strip under simulated battlefield conditions
Ismail Haniya speaks at the opening of the summer camp season.
The internal Palestinian recognition refuses to bloom. The Arabic reads "The reconciliation" (Felesteen.ps, June 8, 2014).
Israeli President Shimon Peres, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis pray together in the Vatican garden (Wafa.ps, June 8, 2014).
- This past week terrorist events in Judea and Samaria focused on the shooting attack carried out by a Palestinian at the Tapuah Junction in Samaria (where a terrorist operative wearing an explosive belt was recently detained). Israeli security forces returned fire, killing the shooter. Israel's south was quiet.
- This week, the Palestinian administration was transferred to a national consensus government composed of technocrats. Differences of opinion between Fatah and Hamas have already surfaced, manifested by a violent clash between administration employees in the Gaza Strip who had not received their salaries and Hamas police. The clash led to a public dispute between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas spokesmen.
- At the same time, fundamental issues also began to surface, among them attitudes towards terrorism (the so-called "resistance") and the negotiations with Israel, the existence of Hamas' military-terrorist infrastructure and security coordination with Israel in Judea and Samaria.
- On June 3, 2014, a Palestinian terrorist operative was shot to death by Israeli security forces at the Tapuah Junction in Samaria. A suspicious person arrived at the junction in the late afternoon and conducted surveillance of the Israeli security forces manning the post. An Israeli civilian noticed the man and pointed him out to the soldiers. When they approached to examine him he opened fire. The security forces returned fire, shot and killed him. A Border Police soldier incurred minor wounds. Note: On May 30, 2014, a suicide bombing attack was prevented at the same junction by the detention of a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt (Border Police website, June 3, 2014).
- The Palestinian media reported the death of Alaa' Muhammad Awda, 30, from the village of Hawara. They claimed he was "killed in cold blood" when IDF forces suddenly shot him as he was standing next to his car at the roadblock (Wafa.ps, Safa.ps, June 3, 2014). The national consensus government condemned his death (Wafa.ps, June 3, 2014). The Fatah movement in Hawara hung a poster commemorating him at the family's house.
Increase in Attempts to Abduct Israelis as Bargaining Chips
According to data from the Israel Security Agency, since September 2013 the Israeli security forces exposed 11 attempts by Palestinian security prisoners to handle operatives on the ground for the abduction of Israel soldiers and civilians. Fatah prisoners were involved in about half of the cases, the rest involved prisoners from Hamas and other Islamist terrorist organizations. According to the data, in recent months there has been a significant increase in intentions and attempts to abduct Israelis, directed by terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israeli jails. The main objective of the attempted abductions is to secure bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners (Israel Security Agency website, June 5, 2014).
Rocket Fire into Israel
- This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israel's south.
Summary of Terrorist Attacks in May
- During May 2014 there was a slight increase in the number of terrorist attacks carried out in Judea and Samaria and the Jerusalem area, compared with April. In May 107 terrorist attacks were carried out. Ninety-six terrorist attacks were carried out in Judea and Samaria (compared with 80 in April) and 11 in Jerusalem (compared with seven in April). Most of the attacks (88 of the 107) involved Molotov cocktails, nine of them in Jerusalem. Fourteen involved IEDs, four involved shots fired from light arms (one attack in Jerusalem). In addition, one suicide bombing attack was prevented.
Palestinian "Popular Resistance" Violence Continues
- This past week violent incidents continued in Judea and Samaria, part of the so-called "popular resistance." Stones were thrown at Israeli civilians and Israeli security forces and Molotov cocktails were thrown at vehicles on main roads. The themes of the Friday riots held at the traditional friction points (Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nebi Saleh, Qadoum, etc.) were Naksa Day and solidarity with the hunger-striking administrative detainees.
- On June 4, 2014, students of Bir Zeit University held a march in solidarity with administrative detainees holding a hunger strike in Israeli jails. The march turned into a violent confrontation with Israeli security forces, and the demonstrators vandalized the gates of the Ofer jail. The Palestinian media reported that five Palestinians were injured during the clash.
Palestinian students from Bir Zeit University clash with Israeli security forces at the entrance to the Ofer jail (Wafa.ps, June 4, 2014).
- On the morning of June 3, 2014, Palestinians blocked the road near the Samarian village of Hawara. The burned tires and threw stones at 30 Israeli vehicles. Two Israel incurred minor injuries. Several vehicles were damaged (Tazpit.org.il, June 3, 2014).
Naksa Day Events
- On June 5, 2014, the Palestinians marked the 47th anniversary of the Naksa (the defeat of the Arab armies in the Six Day War). Rallies and marches were held throughout Judea and Samaria without exceptional incident. Fatah issued an announcement stressing the path of "popular resistance" of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation, until the end of the [Israeli] occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state (Fatah media, June 6, 2014). Hamas issued an announcement stressing that the Palestinian people were still on their land, defending it from Israel and Israel's crimes (Hamasinfo.net, June 6, 2014). Some of the events were the following:
- Ramallah – Dozens of Palestinians from the Qalandia refugee camp held a march to the Qalandia roadblock. In attendance was Mustafa Barghouti, head of the National Initiative movement, who was reportedly wounded by rubber bullets fired by the Israeli security forces during the march.
- Hebron – Palestinian activists organized a march for Naksa Day and to show solidarity with the Palestinian administrative prisoners on hunger strikes.
- Jordan – On June 6, 2014, dozens of Jordanians from throughout the kingdom held a march to the Suweima area of the Jordan Valley. The marchers held their Friday prayer there. Speeches given after the march noted the need to guard Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque (Albosala.com, June 6, 2014).
The Rafah Crossing
- The Rafah crossing continues to operate irregularly. Open for three days, it was closed until further notice. Sources in Hamas hope that with the establishment of the national consensus government, the issue of the Rafah crossing will be settled. Maher Abu Subha, Hamas head of the crossings administration, said that promises for the regular opening of the Rafah crossing once the national consensus government had been established had not yet been translated into action on the ground, and the crossing continued to operate as it had previously (Alresala.net, June 4, 2014).
- Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah's Central Committee and holder of the reconciliation portfolio, said he expected that arrangements for the Rafah crossing would be completed within three months. He said the arrangements would be in accordance with the agreement of 2005 (the Agreement on Movement and Access). A senior Egyptian official said that Egypt was willing to open the Rafah crossing on a permanent basis on condition that the national consensus government operated it. He said the newly elected Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, had expressed willingness to decide the issue during a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas (Maannews.net, June 7, 2014).
Hamas Declarations regarding the "Resistance"
- Even after the formation of the national consensus government, senior Hamas figures continue their support for and adherence to the path of the so-called "resistance" [i.e., terrorism], and maintain their objections to negotiations and security coordination with Israel:
- Fathi Hamad, minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration, made a farewell speech in which he called on the employees of the ministry to defend the Palestinian lands and holy places, and to reject security coordination with "the Israeli occupation." He also called on Fatah to put an end to the path of negotiation, which had proved to be a failure (Felesteen.ps, June 3, 2014).
- Ismail Haniya gave a speech at a Naksa Day march which ended in front of Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City. He stressed Hamas' adherence to the "armed resistance," its striving to "liberate" Jerusalem and the holy places, and its commitment to secure the release of the Palestinian prisoners. He also called for the establishment of a "Jerusalem liberation army," led by Hamas' military-terrorist wing (Safa.ps, June 7, 2014).
Hamas Continues Training Its Security Forces
- On May 28, 2014, the (Hamas-controlled) training administration of the national security forces held a military exercise for 150 cadets in an officers' training course at an installation in eastern Gaza City. According to Muhammad al-Nakhaleh, head of the training administration, the exercise was held to raise their level of preparedness, and for that reason they practiced scenarios similar to what they would really encounter on the battlefield (Hamas forum and the website of the Hamas ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, May 29, 2014).
Summer Camps Open in the Gaza Strip
- A ceremony was held in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza Strip for the opening of the summer camp season in the Gaza Strip, this year called "Torches of freedom." Ismail Haniya, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said Hamas' strategy would not change at any price and that there was no change in Hamas' plan for "liberation and return." He said Hamas was working to educate Palestinians ideologically and religiously, and to instill them with the concept of jihad. He said that the continuation of the annual summer camps were proof that Hamas "adhered to its path of jihad" (Safa.ps, June 7, 2014).
- Every year summer camps are held in the Gaza Strip for children and adolescents. Most of them are organized by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Some are conducted by Islamic associations, women's associations and UNRWA. In the Hamas and PIJ camps the children have social activities and undergo Islamist indoctrination and semi-military training.
Left: Ismail Haniya speaks at the opening of the summer camp season. Right: Ismail Haniya receives a present from the children: a map of "Palestine" from which Israel is absent (Paltimes.net, June 6, 2014).
Formation of An Interim Consensus Government
- On June 2, 2014, the national consensus government was formed in Ramallah. It is a government of technocrats, currently with 18 ministers, who are not supposed to represent either Fatah or Hamas. Five of them come from the Gaza Strip, two from east Jerusalem and 11 from Judea and Samaria.
- Mahmoud Abbas, who chaired the first meeting of the national consensus government after it had been sworn in, praised its establishment. Presenting its platform he said that it was committed to the principle of two states with the 1967 borders and to recognize the State of Israel, to reject violence, respect agreements previously signed and accept the decisions of the International Quartet. He also said that the government was committed to the continuation of security coordination with Israel.
- Mahmoud Abbas also expressed his commitment to negotiations with Israel, saying that it was the ideal path for the Palestinian people to achieve their rights. He said the negotiations were the responsibility of the PLO, which wanted them to continue. He added that to continue them for nine more months Israel had to carry out the fourth phase of prisoner release and to freeze construction in the settlements. He also said that the government was committed to " non-violent popular resistance," which would express its positions "in a cultured fashion" (Wafa.ps, June 2, 2014).
The Transition Process
- As soon as the government was formed, defined as an interim government, Mahmoud Abbas sent an official letter to the chairman of the central elections committee in which he asked for immediate action to be taken so that elections could be held in six months. He also sent a letter to Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister of the interim government, asking for help with the election process and cooperation with the central election committee (Wafa.ps, June 5, 2014).
- At the same time, Hamas began transferring its administrative institutions to the national consensus government. Ceremonies were held to exchange ministerial functions and incoming and outgoing ministers held meetings (Paltimes.net, June 8, 2014). However, difficulties still exist. For example, some of the PA employees in the Gaza Strip who returned to their jobs did not receive instructions about how to continue their work (Al-ayyam.com, June 8, 2014).
Israel's Position on the National Consensus Government
- In response to the establishment of the national consensus government, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said that it was a direct continuation of Mahmoud Abbas' policy of rejecting peace. He said Mahmoud Abbas had made a pact with Hamas, declared a terrorist organization by the United States, Europe and Egypt, and by the world, "responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 innocent Israelis and firing thousands of rockets at Israeli cities". He added that signing an agreement with Hamas made Mahmoud Abbas directly responsible for the terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip. Israel, he said, would "not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government with backing from Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel."
- The Israeli ministerial committee for national security made a series of decisions, as follows (ITIC emphasis):
- not to negotiate with a Palestinian government with backing from Hamas, a terrorist organization which calls for the destruction of Israel;
- To act, including in the international arena, against the participation of terrorist organizations in [PA institution] elections;
- To authorize the Prime Minister to impose additional sanctions on the Palestinian Authority;
- To hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for all actions that harm the security of Israel which originate in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip; and
- To form a team to consider ways of action given the new reality that has been created and ahead of diplomatic and security situations that will be created in the future.
First Disagreements in Conducting the National Agreement Government
- On June 4, 2014, two days after the establishment of the national consensus government, operatives from the Hamas police and employees of the former Haniya administration who had not been paid attacked PA employees who had gone to banks throughout the Gaza Strip to withdraw their salaries. The Gazan police prevented the PA employees from using ATMs. As a result, PA employees demonstrated throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas police denied having prevented access to ATMs, saying they had only dispersed a demonstration of Hamas administration employees who had gathered in front of banks (Palpress.ps, paltoday.ps, alquds.com, June 5, 2014).
Left: Former Hamas administration employees demonstrate in front of the Palestine Bank in Gaza City. The signs read "No to discrimination," "The rights of employees – the red line" (Paltimes.net, June 9, 2014). Right: The Hamas police prevent PA employees from entering banks to withdraw their salaries (Fatah Facebook page, June 5, 2014).
- In response, Mahmoud Abbas severely criticized Hamas' conduct regarding payments and said that it was behind closing the banks in the Gaza Strip. He said the PA would not be able to pay the salaries of Hamas employees before an agreement had been reached regarding the functioning of the national consensus government. He said Hamas' conduct showed that its real intention was to make the national consensus government responsible for the situation in the Gaza Strip, which was unacceptable (Sada al-Balad, June 7, 2014).
- Senior Hamas figures responded with extreme anger to Mahmoud Abbas' remarks. Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, held a press conference where he spoke about the issue of "the salary crisis," and criticized the policies of the national consensus government. He said that the Hamas administration was no longer functional, and called on Rami Hamdallah to resolve the crisis and use his authority as prime minister of all the Palestinians (Al-Aqsa TV, June 9, 2014). Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas figure, said that the national consensus government was responsible for paying the salaries of government workers and that statements made by Mahmoud Abbas proved that he wanted to remain president of Fatah and not of all the Palestinian people (Paltimes.net, June 8, 2014).
Complaints about the Continuing Detention of Hamas Activists in Judea and Samaria
- Hamas continues to complain that the PA's security services still "oppress" what Hamas calls its "political activity in the West Bank." Hamas blames the PA's security services for a series of detentions and summons of Hamas activists for interrogation (Safa.ps, June 4, 2014).
- Sources in Hamas also blamed the PA's security services for posing obstacles to the distribution of Hamas newspapers and magazines since the reconciliation agreement. The same Hamas sources also complained that the distribution of its magazine Al-Risala was forbidden in Judea and Samaria and that its activists were prevented from hanging signs with the Al-Aqsa TV's programs for Ramadan (Alresala.net, June 5, 2014). Hamas also accused the PA's security forces of interrogating the people who distributed their newspapers (Paltimes.net, June 9, 2014).
Activities of Hamas' Military-Terrorist Wing
- Senior Hamas figures still relate to the activities of its military-terrorist wing. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said that merging the military wing with the PA security services was out of the question and that there was nothing to discuss. He said that the military wing (i.e.,the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades would not become a security service or an operative arm of the government. He said the military wing was a "military institution with supreme national objectives, standing above the government and its internal security services." He admitted that some operatives had a double identity, serving in the military wing were also operatives of the security services (Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, June 4, 2014).
- Abu Obeida's statement corresponds to a more extensive phenomenon exposed by the IDF in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Defense, of military-terrorist operatives who also belong to Hamas' security services. It was a function of the institutionalized operational collaboration between the services and the military-terrorist wing, which included members of the services who fought against the IDF under the command of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Mud Slinging in the Media
- This past week Hamas' websites continued posting skeptical cartoons with low expectations about the reconciliation agreement and the national consensus government. In one Hamas pictured PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as a magician who had to cope with too many challenges and problems (Paltimes.net, felesteen.ps, June 3.4 and 8, 2014).
Left: The real difficulties in repairing the internal Palestinian schism. The Arabic reads "One people" (Felesteen.ps, June 4, 2014). Right: "Al-Hamdallah and his magic wand (Paltimes.net, June 3, 2014).
Mahmoud Abbas at a Joint Prayer in the Vatican
- Mahmoud Abbas, at the invitation of the Pope, went to Rome to pray for peace at the Vatican, along with the Pope himself and Shimon Peres, president of Israel. During the prayer Mahmoud Abbas called for equal peace, prosperity and tranquility for both the Palestinians and Israel, and to turn Palestine and Jerusalem into a secure state and city for all believers, and a haven for all three faiths. He ended by saying "Peace" in Hebrew, Italian and Arabic (Wafa.ps, June 8, 2014).
Administrative Detainees Continue Their Hunger Strike
- The hunger strike of the administrative detainees in Israeli jails, now in its fifth week, continues. Palestinians have been expressing solidarity with the hunger strikers throughout Judea and Samaria. Salim al-Saqqa, minister of justice in the national consensus government, said that in the near future the government would be serious in its examination of the issue of the administrative detainees to ensure their swift release. He also said that various internal committees of the national consensus government would formulate immediate solutions (Alresala.net, June 7, 2014).
- On June 7, 2014, Hamas organized a march in Ramallah to show solidarity with the hunger striking administrative detainees. The marchers called on the PA to end its security coordination with Israel and allow the "resistance" to exist in Judea and Samaria (Safa.ps, date, 2014). Hamas has recently increased its public involvement in anti-Israeli events (demonstrations, protests, rallies) in Judea and Samaria.
As of June 10, 2014. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire and rocket hits inside the Gaza Strip.
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
According to data from the Israel Security Agency website.
The statistics do not include the dozens of stones thrown.
The Suweima area is the region in Jordan closest to Jerusalem. In recent years Jordanians have repeatedly held rallies there for Nakba Day and Naksa Day.
For further information about summer camps in the Gaza Strip held in the previous year, see the June 17, 2013 bulletin "This Year as Well Summer Camps Open in the Gaza Strip, Run Mostly by the Terrorist Organizations."
The so-called "non-violent," and "cultured" popular resistance also includes acts of violence such as throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, as well as the use of cold weapons (i.e. carrying out stabbing and vehicular attacks).
For further information about the double identities of members of Hamas' security services in the Gaza Strip, see the December 16, 2012 bulletin "Members of Hamas' Internal Security Services Who Were Also Operatives in Hamas' Military-Terrorist Wing and Were Killed in Operation Pillar of Defense."